Why Can’t We Appreciate Differences?

Could you imagine a world of people who all like the same things, believe the same things, wear the same things.. so on and so forth?  Yuck!  Not just yuck but “What the F, Yuck!”.  I’ve kept pretty mum on politics and societal expressions that have emerged and I promise this will be my only public comment but seriously, why can’t we appreciate that people in this world are beautifully different.  Let’s stop getting offended by the smallest things that might be contrary from the so called “norm”.  Stop bashing others for their choices, political or not and just be decent to one another.  Maybe realize that we’re sharing this planet together and the age old rule that many are taught, ‘Live and let live’, should apply.

One of the best things about what we do photographically is meeting so many diverse people from various beliefs, backgrounds, and views- many of which become friends we aim to keep in touch with through the years.  Have prospective clients judged us by showing images from these so called “non-traditional” weddings or couples?  Oh yeah!  I’ve been told a few times that we were passed on because we support or show a certain type of client, wedding style, or belief. I’m usually pretty thankful on the passing as I want to work with clients who are and appreciate that we’re all created differently from one another.

One of my favorite things when I walk into our office/studio is our wedding client wall- all amazing, all gorgeous, and all have their own unique story.


In closing, be thankful for one another; be kind to one another; and respect everyone’s beautiful differences not just around the holidays but every day.


Behind the Image- The Butterfly

The wedding day goes so incredibly fast that moments are captured but as readers you may not know the stories surrounding the image. Behind the Image is a bi-monthly post featuring one of our favorite images and the story behind it- Why was it captured and what does it mean to us as photographers.

When entering images into competitions, I never like to name my print.  I feel like adding a name to an image puts the creativity into a box and directs viewers into one line of thought, versus allowing imagination.  I know- pretty deep for a wedding blog.  One of my favorite recent captures was of a butterfly, or moth, as some may refer.  In all actuality, this was not the butterfly I was trying to capture on Amy and Bobby’s wedding day.

During their ceremony, a beautiful monarch butterfly was fluttering around the apple tree overhead as they exchanged vows.  I tried to grab the shot but from where I was standing it looked like a speck in the sea of green leaves. Spiritually, I feel that a butterfly on the wedding day may be a loved one who has passed, shining down on the couple as they celebrate their union.  Just a week before Amy and Bobby said I do, Bobby’s grandfather sadly passed.  By capturing this second butterfly (found in a patch of weeds as Jason photographed the couple), it reminded me of the monarch floating above them earlier, perhaps his grandfather’s way of saying hello.


Engagement Sessions- When to Schedule?

I’m pretty sure engagement sessions are hands down one of my favorite things to photograph.  Don’t get me wrong… I love a fantastic wedding, but with engagements we have ample time to work with our couples and can creatively control when and where images are captured.  One of the most common questions aside from what to wear (see this post for those details) is when to schedule your engagement session. 10506645_10152584097192259_4780065743080305203_o I personally REALLY like our clients to make the schedule decision based off of the time of year since well.. they’re your images, ones you’re going to look at far more regularly than myself and hopefully not punish to be kept on a computer or USB but proudly displayed in your home and on your walls (end soapbox) plus you guys probably know what seasons you enjoy the most.

10317572_10152503888162259_6265076660794116129_oSchedule wise, first the time of year should be chosen appropriately.  About 75% of our client family chooses to have their sessions captured between the beginning of April to the end of June also known as prime time Spring and early summer season.   The other 20% choose autumn months starting towards the middle of September into the end of October.  The remaining 5% are our gladiator couples opting for summer months of July and August or the winter months between December and February.  Scheduling also really depends on your location, such as a winery like recent couple Kim and Ethan chose for their late May session.  Kim and Ethan definitely wanted greenery and to have some open foliage on the vines to accent their backdrop, basically choosing the perfect time to capture this and not sweat it out like a 5K runner at the gym.

Along with the time of year, the time of day is equally crucial and in most cases when scheduling with our couples I will do a quick internet search to see what the proposed sunrise and sunset times are versus the chosen location.  Valleys or tree covered areas I want to get a start time sooner in the evening versus a mountain top or open field area to capture the right lighting based off of the couples preferences.  For morning sessions I want to start a bit earlier in the day to avoid heavy face shadows around the eyes if possible.  10383755_10152541664577259_3430027562085323212_oFor Jocelyn and Brandon, whom we captured a few weeks ago, grabbing key images around the “golden hour” was key to starting the session at a certain time based off of their covered bridge preferences then to an open field where sunset was approaching, making way to some stunning colors as a backdrop.

In closing, your preferred look, theme, or outfit should also be taken into consideration when scheduling.  Having a gorgeous summer dress would look a bit.. odd in October, as would sporting a long sleeve button down and a vest for the guys in the heat of summer.  1548202_10152540280607259_3258425399173538759_oWhen it came to pairing an outfit with the time of year, Dana and Stephen hit it perfectly for their late May session.  Dana chose a very classy blue and white a-line dress while Stephen chose khaki pants and a classic green button down making this perfect pair look as if they stepped off a Ralph Lauren catalog and right into their engagement photos.

There’s a lot of food for though when working through your who, when and where’s of your engagement session, but start basic.  Choose the time of year first, then the type of location you prefer, and work around the best timing for the lighting you love and when all else fails contact your photographer, most have seen it all:)

Time to Ditch Your Pinterest Account?

Take a break and think about how well connected people are to social media these days… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.  All are great tools when planning a wedding or could be if used correctly.  Lately I’ve noticed a decline in Pinterest fandom among professional creatives and although some valid points were made, I have to agree with NOT using much of pinterest in wedding planning.  Before bringing out the pitch forks and torches.. let’s discuss.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 10.00.54 PM*It’s Recycled Ideas.  I’m all for inspiration however it should be taken lightly in planning.  The best weddings photographically in my opinion are those with a touch of the couple’s personality more so than handfuls of pinterest recreations.   I still remember weddings where the couple made DIY items or creations that may have had some pinterest inspiration, however they twisted it to fit their wedding design dream which made their celebrations even more personalized.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.48.05 PM*Stylized Images.  Okay hope you’re sitting for this one, but a lot of those pinned couple images are stylized sessions.  Stylized shoots are fantastic for inspiration, but should be known that it’s designers, photographers, or publishers who are setting these up, gathering every detail surrounding the couple and the photographers have hours to shoot with perfect light.  Not every image is from a “set up” session thankfully but be aware that some are and although can be “inspiration” for your own images, will take time to set up, so plan accordingly for your timeline if that’s a heart set item.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.37.28 PM*Backfire on Trying to be Unique.  Although I don’t believe that every plan in a wedding needs to be unique, I do feel the couple IS unique and shouldn’t aspire to recreating poses in images that may not fit the personalities of both you and your spouse.  If you’re a fun and goofy couple, pulling off that sensual pose you pinned months ago is going to be more work than one would think, especially to make it look natural and “fitting” for who you guys really are as a couple.

*Out of Date Boards or Unrelated Pins.  I tend to look up pinterest boards of our clients to see where your image preference is more so than the details planned.  Like your guests, I want to be a little surprised when I walk into your reception to enjoy my own personal ‘Oooo’ and ‘Ahhh’ moment.  Don’t laugh.. I seriously love this part of the day:)  The hardest part of scoping out boards is that preferences and poses may change over time and with trends (i.e the jump shot.. hated personally but done upon request although I’ll sigh internally as I shoot it).  Also pinterest is tricky and it’s so darn easy to pin tomorrow night’s dinner recipe up with your wedding inspiration boards. Although I love new recipes, I’d rather just cruise your inspiration on it’s own.  Keep it clean and keep it up to date.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.56.48 PM*Does it Match?  There are tens of thousands of wedding venues all across the nation and most rarely look the same.  Pinning a grand ballroom photograph of a couple’s first dance in NYC doesn’t really match your chic rustic B&B style wedding here in central PA.  When looking over boards as a viewer, it’s hard to see why a couple may have pinned an image that isn’t the same “feel” as what was described for their wedding venue, especially if the pin remarks at the bottom of the image are passed along from pinner to pinner.  Best recommendation, if you’re going to pin and have others ogle them, make appropriate inspiration remarks such as “Love the lighting, love the pose, love the dress” to avoid that ‘Say wha…’ moment to your viewers.

So to ditch or not to ditch is up to you, however when it comes to wedding posing, inspirations and creations, trust your professionals such as your wedding planner, DJ, or photographer… after all, they’re typically at a wedding almost every weekend in the spring, summer, and fall months.

Where’s Your Wedding Inspiration Coming From?

storm_0010j_mmpWedding planning is never an easy project for most couples, however it amazes me how many fantastic planning and inspirational tools are available for today’s couples within a few short keystrokes!  Actually.. it makes me downright jealous!  Eight years ago when we were planning, we had magazines, books, and a few select websites which were all heavily geared towards more traditional style weddings.  Today you can find a blog or site that is specifically catered to your personality, orientation, or wedding style.  Did I mention I’m jealous?  For those new to your engagement or looking for a little special something to make your wedding more customized, here are a handful of our favorite inspirational sites.

*Offbeat Bride– One of our fabulous couples turned me on to this site a few years ago (thanks Rebecca & Mason) and I’ve been an avid creeper on their real wedding posts ever since!  Offbeat Bride caters to non-traditional couples who can pop over to their site for a daily dose of ‘wedding porn’, advice, and inspiration.  What I love most is there isn’t a one size fits all to their real wedding posts- GLBT, plus size, cultural traditions.. nothing is off limits and every type of offbeat style is covered.  Also after the wedding, you can still check in for your daily dose of offbeat with sister sites of Offbeat Home, Families, and Empire.

davis_0498_mmp*Wedding Chicks– I love poking through this site for the mass amounts of pretty, very much trend-setting, wedding images and of course real wedding inspiration. The coolest part of this blog is the DIY section for those ueber creative couples who not only save a buck or two but love the hands on details portrayed at their wedding.

*A Bicycle Built for Two– ABB2 is definitely geared towards lesbian couples celebrating their weddings and engagements but I love sneaking a peek at how other photographers are capturing these gorgeous ladies and customized details couples choose to incorporate in their wedding day.  This site is all about real wedding inspiration but the best part is reading about how couples made the planning decisions for their wedding day and of course their back stories which are always heartwarming.

*Green Wedding Shoes– Fabulous finds and gorgeous imagery geared towards the fashionista bride is what this blog is all about.  Along with a DIY section and the real wedding gallery, my favorite feature of this site is the Galleries section where images are broken down into different categories based off of what inspiration you’re on the hunt for.  There’s even a section for honeymoon planning which who wouldn’t want to ogle some fantastic vacation hot spots?

*When Geeks Wed– Okay so I married a geek, I have friends who married geeks, and a good chunk of our MMP client family are geeks in some fashion so this site was a given on my daily blog check in’s.  From ideas on how to DIY a Star Wars themed wedding to the best bridesmaid dresses for the geeky gals, this site is jam packed with unique awesomeness that caters to all forms of geekdom.Cullison_0350_MMP

This is of course not the end all, be all of amazing wedding inspiration out there but just a few of our favorites.  What blogs or sites can you not live without or do you recommend we check out?



How to be the best possible wedding guest in five easy steps!

DiSantis_1607_MMPWith the warmer temps (finally) and the beautiful spring blooms, so begins the wedding season!  Aside from the warmer weather, it’s both one of my favorite yet busiest times of the year with just about every weekend booked with weddings and portrait sessions.  Although each wedding is completely different from the next, guest etiquette is pretty standard across the board, yet party fouls sometimes seem to happen when couples least expect it.  You already know the etiquette staples of never wearing white, don’t be too early or definitely not late, and no whining or complaints.  Definitely not the end all be all tips for guests, but here are a few to get your guests through the wedding and keep you in a peaceful state of mind.

1. Be Respectful of the Day.  It’s easy as a guest to get a bit carried away when seeing others you may not have seen in months or years, get snap happy with your iPhone, iPad, or point and shoot, or take full advantage of the open bar… repeatedly. gross_0432_mmp We’re not saying don’t do these things or other “wedding tourist” actions, just be mindful of your actions and how it may affect the bride or groom you love and came to see.  The average couple spends upwards of $25,000 to $30,000 on their wedding day with a huge chunk going towards their venue, entertainment, and photography- they want you to have an amazing and unforgettable time, but falling over drunk will only make some not so desirable memories.  One respectful practice that can help out a photographer- keep the cell phones down during the ceremony and key moments that are imperative to the couple.  Believe me.. your iPhone won’t capture nearly the same quality image as a photographers $5000 camera will:)

2. Go to Cocktail Hour.  I’ll never understand why guests like to mingle and hang out at the ceremony venue after the kiss and recessional are complete.  Go… drink… nibble on tasty hors d’oeuvres! clark_0636_mmp Spoiler Alert- after the ceremony, a limited amount of time is devoted to family pictures, which most photographers want to accomplish as soon as possible, and couple portraits which they will showcase in their home, share with family and friends, and use as their Facebook profile pictures.  Unless you’ve been asked to hang out afterward, please go enjoy cocktail hour.  It keeps the couple calm and on time which leads to a happy photographer and caterer (late couples = late food service = mushy vegetables = yuck!).

3. Sign the Guest Book and Take your Favors.  A couple typically plans out their wedding day 12-18 months in advance of your arrival to their festivities.  From the linens, to the flowers, and beyond they’re envisioning how they want their dream to come together, which includes the fun favors planned for their guests as a sincere thank you for being a part of their wedding day.  Take these!  Knowles_1062_MMPFavors can cost between $1-$10 a piece depending on the personalization and what exactly they are.  Most couples are opting for edible favors which can serve as a bonus snack for the drive home!  Although most are doing away with it, couples are still choosing to do some sort of guest book/ ‘I was here’ item to remember you by- Sign it!  Make it a bit more personal and add a sweet note to the couple for great marriage tips, well wishes, or even a good recipe.  Knowing ahead of time that most couples choose some sort of guest book item, plan ahead with what you’re most apt to write.

 4. Dance!  Whether you need a drink or two, or have the moves of Beyoncé.. get out there!  The DJ appreciates it, the photographers appreciate it, and the couple appreciates it!  Hate the thought of your picture being taken while you’re getting your groove on?  No worries.. you may want to sit down for this one… but we honestly don’t care what you look like when you dance.  Picture wise we get to capture a packed dance floor which makes the couple’s wedding portfolio brick_0015j_mmplook even more kick ass and focus on your happy, smiling faces as you laugh up someone’s fantastic MJ moves or attempts on break dancing.  The more candid, the better memories the couple has in their imagery.  You’ll also look like a rockstar to get your date out there dancing throughout the evening!

5. Avoid Social Media Posts. Sure you want to share how awesome of a wedding you’re at or post selfies of your gorgeous wedding attire but resist the urge.  Most couples, especially the brides, prefer to NOT have their guests post wedding play-by-plays on social media pages.  Although you may be the next Ansel Adams of iPhone photography, I’ve rarely seen a good looking instant post of a bride on her wedding day.  A good rule of thumb is to wait until the bride or groom (usually the bride) posts images from her wedding day on her page or the photographer has released professional images of the beautiful bride and groom.  Think of it like the 80’s.. when the average American didn’t have a cell phone, but had big ass hair, eclectic dance moves, and funky fashions instead.


Etsy-Up Your Wedding Day!

The modern couple gets major props from most photographers for their strong attention to detail and continuous pushing of the envelope on the look, touch, and themes for their wedding.  Some of my absolute favorite weddings were a combination of thoughtful purchases that matched the couples personality or those who went balls out on the DIY designs!  Though most of our clients are super creative in some capacity, we do have a few who are always on the hunt for a helping hand in design to which we recommend sites such as Pinterest for inspiration or Etsy for those truly unique touches.  Not sure how to incorporate a few personalized touches?  Try starting here with some finds from Etsy:

-Cake/Dessert Toppers:

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-Alternative Bouquets:

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-Guest Books:

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-For the Groom:

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What are some of your favorite Etsy finds or purchases?

Dead Wedding Trends

Everyone knows that couples have been tying the knot for centuries, however over the years some of those old fashioned trends are dissipating from planned wedding details.  With the ultimate goal for the modern day couple to make their wedding more personalized, more relaxed, and more fun for guests we’re seeing more and more “traditions” being dropped.. and for good reason.   Given we’ll photograph anything here’s what we’ve seen lately in the soon to be sealed barrel of dead wedding trends….

The “Ghost” Wedding Dress Shot.  More often than not we’re asked by our ladies to avoid capturing their ghostly hanging wedding gown in preference of a stunning front and back image of the gorgeous gal actually in her threads.

Ceremony “Accessories”.  More couples are opting for a simplistic wedding ceremony, incorporating personalized vows in an abbreviated yet thoughtful ceremony.  Departing are sand blending ceremonies, unity candles, and lengthy impersonal readings.

The Super Extended Family Photo.  Almost every couple we work with prefer to scale back their family posed images that are captured after the ceremony to include just parents, grandparents, and siblings versus the aunts, great-uncles, twice removed cousins, the who-the-hell-are-you family members, etc.

The Receiving Line.  [Insert Imperial March Music Here]  The receiving line is an old hold over from when couples chose to get hitched and hit the road versus head to an immediately following cocktail hour and reception.  A good old fashion receiving line will suck time away from your day faster than an Olympic Speed Skater and depending on the month you’re more susceptible to sharing colds and other fabulous illnesses with your invited guests.  Most couples opt to visit tables to talk with and thank each of their guests or just drag everyone out to the dance floor or photo booth!

Not Attending Cocktail Hour.  With more opting to do a first look pre-ceremony, couples are making time to hit up their cocktail hour.  Takes care of being able to talk to invited guests, family and friends plus.. hey you paid for it!  Why not enjoy that specialty cocktail and tasty hors d’oeuvre?

The Cake Smash.  Many modern couples are either forgoing the “baby’s first birthday style” cake smash or just saying to hell with cake all together and opting for creative sweets such as pies, cupcakes, dessert bars, or even whoopie pies!  No gal looks good with a nose full of icing nor is it very lady like trying to get smashed cake bits out of your bosoms!

Tosses!  Yes there’s an exclamation point here for a reason. I have to agree with this dying trend over any other.  The bouquet toss… not so bad.  Garter toss… it’s alright.  Garter removal and garter replacement on a new gal… not a favorite.  Many couples we’ve spoken to prefer to completely do away with the tradition as not to embarrass or point out the relationship status of their close friends or family.  We do still see a handful of couples doing tosses and a handful of guests going balls out to grab the garb.

All in all, plan your day as you like, traditional or not.  If all goes as planned, you’re only doing this once:)

Tips for Bridal Show Season

Ah.. just as wedding season is closing, so begins Bridal Show/ Booking season.  Many wedding professionals, including yours truly, will be setting up booths at local bridal shows in hopes of meeting great couples and filling in the few remaining dates for the current year before wedding season is yet again upon us.  When we first started setting up for bridal shows, I’m not going to lie.. I was nervous!  I have to talk and “sell ourselves” to how many people?!  I remember attending a few shows when we were getting married and it was so overwhelming!

Over the past years, I’ve made it one of our goals to be the opposite of a standard, typical wedding show vendor.  Many times if you come up to talk with us, one of the first things I’ll say is “I’m a photographer, not a salesperson”.  There’s nothing worse than listening to a crappy sales pitch from anyone when you either have no idea what the product or service is or are no longer in the market for said item.  We also attempt for practical, yet fun “forget-me-nots” aka show schwag. Lastly the decor.  With each new year of shows, we aspire to do something a little different in our decor.  What we didn’t realize was the inspiration that our tiny detailed touches would make on attendees. I hope we can keep inspiring some folks with each show we participate in!  So with all the gray area of bridal shows, I wanted to share some tips before heading out and things to keep in mind while you’re there.

1. Wedding Only Email Address and Pre-Printed Labels.  When registering for a bridal show, all of the vendors, interested or not, do receive your contact information and you’ll most likely know when the list was shared due to your inbox being filled faster than a coffee cup at Starbucks.  Many vendors and wedding planning sites highly recommend to set up a wedding only email address.  Speaking from experience, we had one vendor who is no longer around, contact us well after our wedding date despite the unsubscribe and “Please stop sending us information” emails.  Preprinted labels will save you a huge chunk of time filling out giveaway forms which most booths have.  In most cases, your name, phone number and that wedding only email address is usually all that is needed, however we’ve seen address labels used as well.  You could also save yourself from hand cramps by designating your MOH or mother as the Entry Form Diva… don’t forget their sash and crown of course!

2. Do Your Research Ahead of Time.  Most shows offer a website or some sort of listing of which vendors are attending.  If on the hunt for a DJ, check out their facebook, blogs, or website in advance to start narrowing down your “must see” list at the show.  Also highly, highly, highly recommended to check out reviews on vendors regardless of attending the show or staying home in your PJ’s.  Reviews are fantastic, usually raw, responses from previous couples who have booked the vendor.  On most sites, vendors can only dispute or file complaints on reviews, yet cannot have a bad one removed.

3. Be Leery of “Today Only” Show Specials.  We’ve never understood why some vendors choose the “Book today and save… or Book today and we’ll….”.  Today only specials, wedding show or not, is not something that we believe in.  You’re not purchasing a toaster, you’re making a huge investment in each other with a celebration of your love with family and friends.  We recommend regardless of which vendor you’re shopping for, interview multiple for comparison.  It’s also easy to get hooked on looking for the lowest cost vendor, however the service standards, overall product, and your experience may differ across the board.  Regardless of vendor, your search should lead you to professionals that not only match or compliment your style, but match your personalities.  This is especially true for venues, coordinators or planners, photographers, and DJ’s- those that you spend a large chunk of your actual wedding day with.

4. Have fun.  Taste the snacks, sip the wine, and eat the cake even if you have a caterer.  Attend the fashion shows, they’re great to start getting an idea of the newer styles.  Soak in the sample decor and flowers, who knows what inspiration you may find.  Lastly smile!  No one likes a grumpy bride:)

I hope you may have found some insight in our show tips and if heading out be sure to stop by and say hello!  See below for where we’re at this winter!

January 19- Unveiled, Clarion Hotel, New Cumberland

January 26- Best Wedding Showcase, Lancaster Marriot Convention Center

February 9- Weddings In Style, Blue Ridge Country Club, Harrisburg

February 26- The Elegance Behind the Bride, AACA Museum, Hershey